The amount of energy used in agricultural production, processing and distribution is constantly increasing. During the winter months in the greenhouse production industry, the supplemental lighting required to keep up production levels results in high expenditure.
Current technology uses broadband high-pressure sodium (HPS) lamps, which is not the most efficient light source for crop production. Recent breakthroughs in the development of light source technologies have led to new opportunities for the use of sustainable and highly efficient light sources in the form of LEDs (light-emitting diodes) for greenhouse lighting.
The aim of a recent study was to evaluate the efficiency of using photosynthetically active radiation (PAR) light for cucumber yielding, production processes and its influence on the variable costs in the cultivation of cucumbers using three different types of lighting.
The research was carried out using three individual greenhouse growing area compartments, whereby the plants contained within were lit using three combinations: 1. HPS standard illumination from top HPS sodium lamps—control, 2. HPS-LED—HPS toplighting and LED interlighting, and 3. LED-LED—100% LED lighting, both toplighting and interlighting with LED.
The research was conducted in two independent winter crop cycles. The results of the research conducted indicate that the efficiency of light use was the highest in the LED-LED combination and the lowest in HPS, and the use of supplemental lamp lighting in the LED-LED combination (interlighting and toplighting) gives the most favorable surplus of all the variable costs over the value of production to be obtained.
Despite the highest absolute level of variable costs in this type of supplemental lighting, the production value was higher by as much as 32.55% in relation to the HPS combination, which also translated into a gross margin that was higher by about ¾. However, it is worth pointing out that, in the HPS-LED combination, the share of lighting and heating costs in the total value of production was the lowest. It is also a combination currently recommended in the literature as being the most beneficial in greenhouse production.